Summary: There have been unruly women for as long as there have been boundaries of what constitutes acceptable “feminine” behavior, but there’s evidence that she’s on the rise–more visible and less easily dismissed–than ever before. In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Anne Helen Petersen uses the lens of “unruliness” to explore the ascension of eleven contemporary powerhouses: Serena Williams, Melissa McCarthy, Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer, Nicki Minaj, Kim Kardashian, Hillary Clinton, Caitlyn Jenner, Jennifer Weiner, and Lena Dunham. Petersen explores why the public loves to love (and hate) these controversial figures, each of whom has been conceived as “too” something: too queer, too strong, too honest, too old, too pregnant, too shrill, too much. With its brisk, incisive analysis, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud will be a conversation-starting book on what makes and breaks celebrity today.
This book is a wonder. Peterson articulates so many frustrations and furies that I have personally felt, and that I know other women have felt, and documents the way our society attempts to limit women in a way that is precise, articulate, and utterly undeniable. Her choice to center each chapter around a specific female celebrity and how she is supposedly “too” something is inspired – these studies are not so much about the women themselves as they are about how the women are seen, discussed, and applauded or vilified by the world around them. This book is an absolute must-read for anyone who is interested in understanding what all women experience in large and small ways as they dare to exist in a world that constantly tells them that they only have worth in relation to men.
Some choice quotes:
“’Shrillness’ is just a word to describe what happens when a woman, with her higher-toned voice, attempts to speak loudly. A pejorative, in other words, developed specifically to shame half the population when they attempt to command attention in the same manner as men.”
“To be an unruly woman today is to oscillate between the postures of fearlessness and self-doubt, between listening to the voices that tell a woman she is too much, and one’s own, whispering and yelling I am already enough, and always have been.”